Once upon a time, there was a man, a man of advancing age as he liked to call it.
He lived in an apartment in New York City, an old apartment with creaking floors and drafty windows.
He was a punctual man, every day at ten he put on his coat and hat —grey wool in winter and gray cotton in summer— and walked down the stairs to the shop next door to buy a newspaper and a cookie.
The cookies had been his wife’s favorite, and he couldn’t bare the thought of never buying them, for her.
This meant he usually had a cookie overstock in his kitchen, but he didn’t mind. Sometimes he had them with tea in the afternoon.
One day, an Autumn Tuesday with winter chilled air and a constant drizzle, his alarm never rang.
He woke up with a start and looked at his clock. He had never cursed in his life, but that day, he did.
He rushed to put on the clothes he had laid out the night before, just as his wife had done for him all those years, and then he rushed as quickly as possible to the door, down the stairs, and into the store.
And then his heart sank.
The cookies were gone. It was 10:35 and all the cookies were gone.
He paid for only the newspaper and sighed.
A soft voice behind him said, “You weren’t here at your usual time. I saw there were only a few cookies left, so I bought one for you.”
He turned around and looked into warm gray eyes and smiled. “Thank you, miss…?”
She laughed, and all of a sudden it seemed like her wrinkles faded and the gray curls became brown.
He took the brown paper bag that held the cookie and said, “Susan Bartholomew. I loved you in high school.”
She smiled the cheeky smile she had as a teen when he had worshiped her from a distance. “And I you.”
He stammered, “How… how did you know.. about the cookie?”
Her smile widened. “I have watched you for days now, I was unsure if you would like to see me again, after all these years.”
He smiled, gazing into her eyes, and asked, with the confidence his younger self lacked, “I am very happy to see you. Would you like to go out for coffee with me?”
“I would love to.” He held out his arm, she hooked hers through it, and they walked to the coffee house down the street, talking like old friends.
And somewhere in the distance, wind chimes caught a sudden breeze and sang a cheery tune.